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Five Foreigners and a Funeral on Fugloy (Faroes)

Five Foreigners and a Funeral on Fugloy (Faroes)


Postby John Doh » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:10 pm

Date walked: 16/08/2017

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I've been to a few remote places in my day but few have taken more preparation than Fugloy, the most remote of the Northern Isles of the Faroes. This was partially my fault because I absolutely wanted to take the helicopter on the way out and this requires some planning. I will describe the itinerary in this thread but please note that boat and heli schedules may vary depending on which day of the week you do the trip. Also, there are Summer and Winter timetables and, obviously, the whole thing is subject to the right weather conditions.

Warning: I am going to post a lot of photos because I thought there were not enough Fugloy photos on the internet and it's only a blurred speck on google earth.

So, here goes: During the Summer (i.e. 1 April - 31 August), there are daily (incl. Sunday) ferry departures from Hvannasund to Fugloy at 08:45 a.m. This is a foot passenger ferry and no reservations are necessary (nor possible). We got up at 6 a.m. and quit our holiday house in Leynar at 7 a.m. In order to get to Hvannasund, we crossed the islands of Streymoy and Eysturoy. From Leirvik on Eysturoy, the subsea tunnel Norðoyatunnilin (Northern Isles tunnel featuring a lightshow!) takes you to Klaksvik, the capital of the Northern Isles and second biggest town in the Faroes with a population of 4'500. Although small, Klaksvik is a maze and a GPS comes in handy in order to find the way through town to the tunnels leading to Hvannasund. These two tunnels, unlike the large and lit Norðoyatunnilin, are single track and unlit but at least you have the priority on the way north. So early in the morning, there was not much traffic and so we were early at Hvannasund pier around 8 a.m.

The boat "Ritan" was already there but no one else except for another tourist. This was to change very soon and more and more passengers started to turn up. Most of them were no tourists, but locals. Soon the boat was fully loaded with Faroese people. These could not be Fugloy natives though because there were far too many of them. Fugloy has a population of under 40 souls but on the boat, there must have been more than 100 people!

At 8:45 the Ritan set sail under pleasant skies and soon, our first port of call, Svinoy came into view. The island of Svinoy is Fugloy's bigger brother in terms of size.

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There is a power cable coming over to Svinoy from the "mainland". You can see the poles on the below pictures if you look close:

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I did not get good pictures of Svinoy pier as the sun was directly opposite. Here is one as we quit Svinoy. The village is on the other side of the island. Only very few people got off at Svinoy. All locals stayed on for Fugloy...

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Soon, Fugloy came into view behind Svinoy:

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A first glimpse of Kirkja, the bigger of the two Fugloy villages:

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On the hillside you can see the road to Hattarvik, the other village, more or less diagonally rising from left to right:

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It was now time to land on Fugloy. There was already a committee waiting for the ferry. This must be more or less the whole population of both Kirkja and Hattarvik:

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I had read a few rather intimidating reports of landing on Fugloy. As there is no pier, you just have to jump from the boat at the right time when the swell lifts it to the right level. It was a calm day and of course, the crew was there to help so we had no problem to do it. However, as below photos and video show, a bit of caution can't harm. Remember, this was a flat calm sea. Imagine that in a gale :shock:

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https://photos.app.goo.gl/mrZLlKr1bNzMNP1i2

It took quite a while to unload everybody. With my wife and me, we were only five foreigners. All other passengers were Faroese. Looking back down at the Ritan from halfway up the stairs to the village:

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Actually, I had planned to go to Hattarvik (the second village on Fugloy) with the boat and then walk back to Kirkja. However, the crew informed me that they were not going to Hattarvik today (although it was scheduled) for some meteorological reasons that eluded me as it was a nice day. Perhaps they just had had enough of it with all the hustle and bustle for a day. There goes the Ritan, directly back to Hvannasund instead of Hattarvik.

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Once we had reached the village of Kirkja, it soon became clear why there were so many people gathering. All flags (and there were quite a few) were at half-mast, meaning that someone had died. This was soon confirmed by a text message announcing that the helicopter would be delayed by 45 minutes in order not to disturb the funeral service. I still haven't managed to find out whose funeral it was but given the number of mourners, he or she must have been known far beyond the island of Fugloy.

Here we are in Kirkja, looking towards the Kirk and, beyond, the strange halfpipe shape of cape Enniberg, the northernmost point in the Faroes. It is located on the island of Viðoy and boasts a vertical cliff of 754m, second only to Kunoyarnakkur, with a staggering 819m which makes it almost twice the height of Britains highest cliffs on St Kilda and Foula.

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In the village.

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Flags at half-mast.

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We followed the way to the church, which, albeit going in the wrong direction initially, is also the way to Hattarvik. Here is the eponymous church with the open grave visible.

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Beyond the village, the road begins to climb and you get nice views over to Viðoy and Enniberg. At the railings, the road turns in a hairpin and then climbs on.

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Below Enniberg sits the village of Viðareiði.

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Looking back down to the hairpin...

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...and Kirkja.

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Observed by a local:

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A tool-shed halfway up the road and weighed down by cement-filled barrels to prevent it from flying away in the winter gales.

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Looking over to Svinoy.

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This guy made a lot of noise. Perhaps one of the birders can identify it?

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Once you have reached the highest point of the road, this panorama opens up.

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Zooming into Hattarvik:

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On the way down to Hattarvik:

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It's not called Fugloy (the bird island) for nothing.

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At some point on the way down to Hattarvik you can't see the village anymore, only one single hut which makes you feel even more remote.

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Due to time constraints, we decided not to go all the way down to Hattarvik as we had to be back in Kirkja in time for the heli. This is why I had planned to get off the boat at Hattarvik and walk over to Kirkja. As explained above, it was not to be. Anyway, there is not much to see in Hattarvik with a population of 13 souls. If you are interested, there is a documentary on youtube in 4 parts about Hattarvik.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWB7TaYPmE4

On our way back to Kirkja, the weather, which already had been good, even improved. A few impressions.

Oystercatcher:

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Svinoy (again):

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Kirkja from above:

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Fugloyarfjørður

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Enniberg.

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It was impossible to pass this old tractor without bringing it back to life for a few moments. :roll:

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A few more pictures of Enniberg. On you to decide whether you like them.

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I really had seen enough puffins already in the Faroes so far (see those reports for puffin mania: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=76484 and https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=76540) so I did not really bother to take many pictures when I discovered that Fugloy had its own colony. They sit on the cliffs beneath the hairpin.

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Here's a series of photos approaching Kirkja from the Hattarvik road on splendid sunshine:

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And a few more of the church:

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When we were back in the village, the funeral service was about to begin. In order to leave the mourners in peace, we retreated to a picnic table above the helipad, where, after 3 hours of walking, we ate and drank and just enjoyed the weather and views while waiting for the helicopter. The latter arrived once the funeral service was over, around 2:15 p.m., as announced in the text. We were the only ones to board it but there were a few other passengers already inside.

The helicopter is ready for take off:

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The helicopter took off only to land again two minutes later at Hattarvik, where a few passengers got out. They had probably spent some time on Svinoy and were going to take the evening boat back to Hvannasund.

What you have to know about the helicopters in the Faroes: They link all islands and it is really cheap. For two persons, we paid 220 Faroese Kroner (= Danish Kroner - around 35 Euros) to fly from Kirkja to Klaksvik. However, you can only book one way at a time. It is not possible to fly to an island and back. You have to take the boat one way and the heli back (or the other way round). This is to prevent tourists occupying all places and to make sure the locals are alway able to get a place when needed.

Looking out of the helicopter at Hattarvik:

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After this short stop, the helicopter was soon on its way to Klaksvik. Looking back at the cliffs behind Hattarvik...

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...and down on Kirkja (right) and over to Enniberg...

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...Kirkja close-up.

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Below you can see Kirkja on the left and Hattarvik on the right. In the middle, Klubbin with 621 m is the highest peak of the island.

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Again, Kirkja with Klubbin (I told you there were going to be a lot of photos)

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Svinoy cliffs:

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Svinoy village (the pier is on the other side)

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A few impressions from the heli flight:

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Approaching Klaksvik:

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Klaksvik Heliport.

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Views from the heliport over Klaksvik (with Kunoy in the background). After a few hours on Fugloy, Klaksvik is a bustling metropolis.

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And there are some people who have a model of their house in the garden of their house. :crazy:

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Anyway, our trip was not quite over. Remember, we had left our car at Hvannasund pier, taken the boat to Fugloy and then the heli to Klaksvik. To get from Klaksvik back to Hvannasund, we had to catch the bus. This meant we had to walk down the few hundred meters from the heliport to the bus station which is next to the brewery. Follow these signs to get there :D

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Our bus was only at 3:50 p.m. which meant that we had the time to have a refreshment at the lovely cafe Fríða which is just 5 minutes from the bus station at the main street in Klaksvik. The bus was on time and soon we were in Hvannasund where we collected our car. As we had looked over to Viðareiði from Fugloy a lot of times, I decided to drive up to Viðareiði to have a look. The village itself is not very spectacular. However, from there, you have nice views over to the deserted village of Múli on the island of Borðoy.

Viðareiði. Múli is on the other side of the fjord just visible.

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It was time to take the road back to Leynar, so we left Viðareiði on the island of Viðoy, crossed the bridge at Hvannasund over to the island of Borðoy, where we managed to pass through the two unlit single track tunnels wihout getting stuck in oncoming traffic. Hint: Best get behind a local, they know when they have to get into a passing place better than you :wink: After crossing Klaksvik, its the subsea tunnel to Eysturoy and finally the bridge to Streymoy, within a bit over an hour, we were back at Leynar, where we enjoyed a quite evening, only disturbed by tourists walking in our front garden taking picture of our house (and us, being in there)... :roll:
Last edited by John Doh on Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Five Foreigners and a Funeral on Fugloy (Faroes)

Postby onsen » Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:41 pm

So stark & desolate...but o so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Five Foreigners and a Funeral on Fugloy (Faroes)

Postby Mal Grey » Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:29 pm

Nice. The heli flight looks excellent.
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Re: Five Foreigners and a Funeral on Fugloy (Faroes)

Postby John Doh » Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:31 pm

Cheers, Onsen and Mal.
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Re: Five Foreigners and a Funeral on Fugloy (Faroes)

Postby John Doh » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:42 am

Just noticed the video link didn't work properly. Fixed it and post it here as well for ease of reference.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/mrZLlKr1bNzMNP1i2
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Re: Five Foreigners and a Funeral on Fugloy (Faroes)

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:21 pm

Really interesting and peaceful reading. Love the tractor reincarnation and the house model too :lol: Your noisy bird is a golden plover. :wink:
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Re: Five Foreigners and a Funeral on Fugloy (Faroes)

Postby John Doh » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:01 pm

EmmaKTunskeen wrote:Really interesting and peaceful reading. Love the tractor reincarnation and the house model too :lol: Your noisy bird is a golden plover. :wink:


Thanks for the nice words and the bird ID.
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